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Stupid Questions
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Ben Round de Bloc

Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1946

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 1:55 pm    Post subject: Say what? Reply with quote

Something I've been asked by locals more than once: "Why is there so much crime in the States? Everyone there can get good jobs and earn lots of money. Why do people there need to steal?"

Another question locals have asked me many times: "You say your mother still lives in the middle of the USA. Is she close to where the war is?"

A question I've heard a couple of times from people in the States when I've gone back to visit: "Do lots of people there speak Spanish, or do most of them speak Mexican?"

Another question I've hear when I've visited my homeland: "When you go to school to teach, do you wear normal clothes or do you dress like a Mexican?"
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Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 17551
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 2:38 pm    Post subject: Hey Scot47 Reply with quote

You have me confused with Zakiah25. I would NEVER presume to make speculations concerning your current or any previous spouses. Smile

Oh........... and BenRDB - thanks for good laugh over my morning tea
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Lucy Snow

Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 218
Location: US

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 3:26 pm    Post subject: Worldly-wise Brits Reply with quote

Well, Richard, I don't know. When I was doing my MA in England, a woman in my seminar asked me, in all seriousness, if the film "Pulp Fiction" was a true depiction of life in the States.

Yup, in the US we all like to kill people while they're sitting on the toilet.
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Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Posts: 64
Location: UK/Eastern Europe

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 4:57 pm    Post subject: Annoying questions Reply with quote

On my visits to Bulgaria job hunting,i am sick of the comments about being a rich Westerner and always being asked why i want to live and work in a poor country.They cannot understand that i might actually find things there which i prefer,like good food(salads especially),gorgeous ladies(not sexist,just honest),and many values which remind me of my parents tales of "the good old days".Oh yes,and of course decent ale at a rather cheaper price than UK.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would tend to agree with Richard in spite of what Lucy wrote. So I didn't think I had anything to add to this thread, but after reading Lucy's story I remembered a conversation I had with a couple of my students at a party in Japan.

Student 1: Do you like cold beer.
katy: Yes
Student 1: But in England you drink hot beer.
katy: Hot beer? No, In England I drink cold beer.
Student 1: But English people usually drink hot beer.
katy: In England we always drink beer cold.
Student 1: I heard it from student 2. Hey student 2, come and tell katy about hot beer in England.
Student 2: That's right beer is hot in England.
katy: Beer is definitely not hot in England.
Student 2: Yes. I read about it in Harry Potter.

I then proceeded to explain to their surprise that Harry Potter is not based on fact. I should also add that these students were adults and intelligent (at least so I thought) to have known better.

This was not the only case I encountered of Japanese people reading or watching Harry Potter and taking it all far too literally.
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[email protected]

Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 473
Location: here and there

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 7:28 pm    Post subject: black brown red yellow white Reply with quote

I had stupid questions at both ends when I spent time in France. When I returned home, though, it was mostly indifference. Occassionally people would ask "Do they hate us?" My brother wanted to know about rumors of marijuana fields. This bothered me a lot about Americans until I started teaching foreign students at the university here and found that they are no different, including Europeans, including Asians, and especially including Arabs. The students with the worst knowledge of world geography seem to be, in my experience, South Koreans. And some French were angry at me about Titanic, as if I ever watched it or had anything to do with it.
"I spent a semester in the States and I couldn't believe there were no car chases!" The car chase usually happens your second semester.
"Indiana? That's where all the Indians live, isn't it?" No, that would be New York City. Or: No, I think Europeans killed all of them.
"Why are you all so fat?" Good question. Why do you all have bad teeth?
and so on.

So you see, there is plenty of ignorance to go around. It's best to laugh at it and then try to help your friend see that life and the world aren't so simple. This goes for myself too--I don't really believe all Koreans are bad at geography, but maybe one day I will ask one of them a stupid question about it.
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Joined: 29 Apr 2003
Posts: 211

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

why are you all so fat Good question"
well answer it
why are we all so fat?
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Joined: 09 Feb 2003
Posts: 155
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 10:18 pm    Post subject: makes sense! Reply with quote

One of my Upper Intermediate students came out with this one yesterday:
"If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would
have something to do with a shortage of flowers."
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guest of Japan

Joined: 28 Feb 2003
Posts: 1601
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zakiah, if that was a direct quote, then your upper-intermediate students have larger vocabularies and better grammar than most native speakers.

I can't imagine your advanced classes.
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Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 814
Location: Fukuoka City, Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I lived in Korea, a woman witha master's degree in education said "I think it is really good that you have learned to speak so much Korean. It must have been very difficult for you with your smaller caucasian brain." (Stunned silence- caucasian brain couldn't think of a single thing to say in response.)

When I returned to Canada after 2 years in Korea, an acquaintance asked "What was it like living with all of those Chinese people?" (I didn't meet any in Korea.)

Now I live in Japan. My city here is fairly multicultural, but I do get some stupid Canada questions.

"Do you use snowshoes?" (I went snow shoeing once when I was in elementary school-I fell down a lot- I don't like to talk about it.)

"Do you know red hair Anne?" (Anne of Green Gables is a fictional character, and while I know of her...)

"Did you know you look like red hair Anne?" (Never wearing my hair like that again!)

"Do you have "A lola bolee la-las"?" (It took me a while to figure out that this person- and countless others since- were asking about the northern lights and not some strange disease or dance move. Aurora Borealis is such a cruel joke of a name for Japanese native speakers.)

"Is Canada very cold?" (Yep.)

"Why do you feel cold? You are from Canada. Canada is very cold. " (I'm one of those "went to a school and lived in a house with central heating" Canadians. I can't take it in the winter in Kyushu when people just tough it out with no heat.)
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guest of Japan

Joined: 28 Feb 2003
Posts: 1601
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Celeste, your comment about the northern lights is so true and funny. It brought back memories.
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Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 1232
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that no matter where you go for work or for travel, there are going to be people who ask 'stupid' questions. When I was in Asia, I was asked an abundance of stupid questions. When I returned home, I was asked even more. To this day, I am asked what I find to be moronic questions about the Korean and Taiwanese people. The most annoying is "What are they like?"....I say, "They're people, just like you and me". *sigh* Confused

Interestingly enough, I just returned from London where I was asked if I lived in an igloo. Rolling Eyes Another bright young "chap", upon being informed that I teach English as a Second Language, asked "What's the first language?". Laughing
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Joined: 12 Feb 2003
Posts: 31
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just had to chime in here and share a question that I got asked a few years back.

At the time, I was living in very rural Japan- a small town in the Alps. There were two drinking "establishments" in town. One was a beer machine which was situated beside the karaoke box in the waitng room of the bus station. Imagine the charming ambiance! I'm sure that both the karaoke and the beer were there so that people could celebrate their impending freedom/escape as they boarded the bus out of town.

The other place was a little restaurant/pub tucked in behind the bank. This was the place I frequented and over my 3 years living in this town I came to love it. The kindness and good times that I experienced there have not been experienced before or since. A fantastic assortment of characters could be found on any given night and I came to know all of them very well. At any rate, I doth digress too much. Sorry.

One night I'm sitting in there with the assistant bank manager, the town policeman (there was only one and he was always drunk. I actually carried him back to his police box one night, but that's another story...) and a bureaucrat from the town hall. Of course, the proprietor of the place, "Mama-san" was also there.

We're all sitting together enjoying our beer and discussing the typical things that they asked me every time we gathered:

"You are Canadian. Do you love nature?"
"Can you use chopsticks?"
"Do you like Japanese girls?"
"Did I go salmon fishing everyday when I lived in Canada?"

I'm giving my standard answers when right out of the blue, the bank manager floors me with this one:

"Is your pubic hair the same colour as the hair on your head?"

He completely deadpanned it too. After spitting out my beer and trying to compose myself and avoid death by laughing, I notice an eerie silence. Everyone has adopted a very serious, inquisitive countenance and huddles in close to me to hear my answer. It was like they had all been on on some 100 year sacred pilgrimage, had finally found God, had asked him for the meaning of life, and were awaiting the response.

In the hushed silence I delivered my answer:

"Foreigners have no pubic hair." Shocked

But the story does not finsih here my friends. Mama-san insisted that I prove it, but I artfully declined. She quite rightfully pointed out that such a contention raised suspicion because I had hair growing on my arms and she pulled down my t-shirt revealing my "would have been sexy in the '70's" chest hair. Wink

As they all debated the truthfulness and potential ramifications of this new and exciting information, the pressure continued to mount for me to dispell the doubts once and for all and do my best Demi Moore "Striptease" imitation. Thankfully, and none too soon, my salvation came when Inozuka-san (the bureaucrat), had a "Eureka" moment and proclaimed that yes, it is true because he'd remembered seeing it in a movie.

Of course I didn't bother asking which movie exactly as I was quite sure that it wasn't a Disney production and probably starred Randy West, Ron Jeremy, Nina Hartley and Jenna Jamieson (porn stars for the females among us. Male readers all know who these people are although they may or may not be willing to admit it!) Embarassed

Inozuka-san's revelation satisfied my mates and we continued the evening by moving back to discuss one of our standard, safer topics: if Japanese snow really was different than snow that fell in Canada or anywhere else on the planet. But I'm sure that the following evening, the policeman and the bank manager were clammering to get down to their local video shop.Wink

Happy weekend to all!
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Joined: 09 Apr 2003
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some funnies ...First of all, I am Canadian but travel to the U.S. every year or so. I was just in Vegas and was asked the following questions about my country like "Do you have radio?", "Is it cold and snowy there? (yes, as soon as you cross the border you hit a wall of snow), What language do you speak in your town(of a million people, who hosted the winter olympics once)? (The answer is English, by the way). And then there was the heated discussion of who won the war of 1812 (for the record it was CANADA, not the US, not France....).

Then, a while back I was in a southern Mexico town speaking with a local kid and when I mentioned where I was from he could tell me about our professional hockey and football teams and ont of the biggest festivals we hold every year.

I think we like to think that other people care about how we live, but does it really matter, after all we don't know simple things about every country either. In any event, as long as you have an open mind and wont be offended these quirks are quite funny.
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Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15265

PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 5:31 pm    Post subject: knowing about other places Reply with quote

It would be nice if we all knew something about other places. Am I being unrealistic to expect that people working in the field of education and Foreign Language Teaching should be a teensy-weensy bit aware of cultural differences ? And I do not mean just paying lip service to cultural relativism !

Last edited by scot47 on Mon May 05, 2003 4:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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